PAX West - Matt Booty

PAX West 2022: Matt Booty Storytime Keynote Recap


  • Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty was a featured Storytime Speaker at this past weekend’s PAX West, hosted by What’s Good Games’ Brittney Brombacher.
  • During the panel Matt talked about his time in the game industry, how others can get started, and sharing ideas on where games are headed.
  • You can watch the full archived version of the conversation here.

Since joining Microsoft in 2010 to help lead internal game dev teams, Matt Booty has overseen some of Xbox’s biggest moments in gaming over the last decade – including playing a key role in the acquisition of Minecraft in 2014. This past weekend, Matt was the featured Storytime Speaker at PAX West 2022, where he shared details about his 30 years in the game industry, from pinball and arcade gaming to Xbox. During the 50 minute session, Matt imparted wisdom about how to break into the industry, provided some thoughts on where gaming is headed, and weighed in on who would win in a fight between Master Chief and Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion.

The entire session is archived here, but for your convenience, sharing a few choice clips below:

On the subject of changing culture in the industry: “We want the people making the games to be the same as the people playing them”

On the increasing complexity of games, and the expectations that go along with them:It used to be you’d ship a game, a little disc would come out, and off it would go, that was the end of it. Now there’s an expectation that there’s gonna be more content… and there’s an expectation it’ll keep growing. But somebody’s got to build that stuff.”

Why are so many games being delayed?: “Some of the processes that we have, have not kept up with how quickly we can make content. One of those is testing… Every single time anything new goes into a big game, the whole game has got to be tested front to back, side to side.”

Editors note: After the keynote, I caught up with Matt, who clarified his comments about use of AI in QA testing: “Digital tools have always been core to the evolution of video games. Our goal is to create more time for our teams to be creative and iterate quickly. AI testing is not about replacing Test and Quality teams, but allowing them to focus their skills on the complex, design-related nuances while automation handles testing tasks at scale. Our Test and Quality teams are a valuable part of the development process and much of the AI experimentation is being done by our test teams themselves, to free up others from having to spend time on repetitive tasks like scouring large open-world games for texture seams or hunting for gaps in collision boundaries.”

How specialization of gaming roles has opened more opportunities for people to join the industry: “There are so many avenues to get into games, which back in the Space Invader days was not the case.”

How we make games is evolving: “Our Perfect Dark team down in Santa Monica, The Initiative, we just did this big partnership with Crystal Dynamics and I read online ‘this must mean there’s a problem’ – it’s quite the opposite. You’ve got this veteran team at Crystal Dynamics, a big AAA team with over 100 people that becomes available – of course we want to work with them”

Passing on the torch to the next generation of game creators: “Games have hit a point where we almost have a responsibility to use the medium correctly… we have the ability to tell stories that change lives.”

Thank you again to Brittney for leading such an insightful conversation with Matt this past weekend at PAX West. You can watch the entirety of the recorded stream here.